What do you DO with your toddler all day?!! - Mothering Forums
Life with a Toddler > What do you DO with your toddler all day?!!
Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 10:01 PM 12-06-2011

So how do people do it? How do you keep your toddler happy and inspired and entertained all day every day? I need ideas!!

 

We live in a small town.  There is not too much going on here- we have a nice little library which we visit almost every day, and a friendly grocery store which we also visit every day. there isn't really a public playground.

There is another slightly larger but still small town aout a 12-15 minute drive.  they have a toddler gym area there but it is only open 1/2 the week and for limited hours.  We go there sometimes.

 

I am still trying to make friends for ds of similar age (20 months). I don't have too many similarly aged friends for him yet eyesroll.gif.

A couple and we try to get together sometimes but nothing too solid yet.

 

I don't have a problem with how to entertain ds when we are home- we have toys and a climbing structure and a swing and a yard etcetra.

I take him on walks almost every day.

But he really wants social interaction with other kids and often times I find there is no where to take him for that! I will take him to the library but often there won't even be any kids there!

I just joined a music together class which is nice but it is on holiday break and only meets once a week when it resumes.

But often times I am at a loss for what to do.

In an ideal world, in my mind, there would be a great kid filled playground that I could take him to whenever we wanted, as well an a great indoor kid filled play space. Plus we would have lots of regular play dates with other kids.  these are what I know my ds needs right now.

I am somewhat finally starting to have some friendships- we are somewhat new to town. But not really with people who have kids ds's age.

I just feel bad for ds in this regard! He is very social and friendly and I want him to have more play places with other kids, but there really aren;'t many. I hope over time we will make friends his age. But some days I just don't know what to do with him. I am a sahm and he is my only. Sometimes I tell dh we need to have a second child just for ds to have someone to play with- but we both think we want to just have ds as our only- not 100% sure on that. So for now- any suggestions? please?!

 

And how do you all do it- anyone in a similar situation in terms of not knowing what to do with your toddler all day? I feel sad sometimes that situations aren;t more ideal like I described! I know eventually he will be in preschool but I do not wish time to go any faster or anything- I love spending my days with him.  I just want to have places where he can play as loudly as he wants- we go to the library and I always feel that the librarians want him to be quiet, which I understand! I try to drive him to the toddler play places when they are open- even though it ends up beign 1/2 hr in the car there and back which I don't like.

there is one toddler playgroup I think in the next town over but it meets in the middle of the day during ds's nap.

So anyway- any suggestions or also experiences of your own?

What do you guys do with your toddlers all day?

sometimes we talk about moving to a bigger town just to have more going on for ds, but then I know there would be downsides to it and we do like where we live and the community here.



SunRise's Avatar SunRise 09:07 AM 12-07-2011

My 21 month old does not seem interested in others yet, well she does notice them and is even curious about them but she doesn't play or really interact. So far she still seems to entertain herself. Also, I'm not the kind of person who needs so much social interaction so our outings are weekly or bi-weekly rather then daily.

 

She is happy to move things around in the house, re organize, put things "away" when she sees them out of place. Cook and mix with dog food and water. So my house is currently in an upheaval state. She can do this for a while, all morning...then we eat, walk and then she naps.

 

She gets to watch a cartoon - Elmo is her favourite, Curious George is moving up. She dances to the music on Sesame Street. Curious George is sweet and she sees a bird, a monkey, a tree, objects that she is familiar with and she can point and call out the objects she knows.

 

We always go for a walk before napping.  She walks for as long as she can, looking and touching things. Its a slow walk. Then into the stroller she goes and she falls asleep for a few hours.

 

Late afternoon, when she is with me at work, is the time she needs something to do. (Usually we leave work, go home and that's it - new surroundings, comfort, things to move around)

 

It was/is usually I who needs to get out / a change of scenery.  We go to the kids museum. Sometimes chuckee cheese as he (when my son was little, but older 3yrs) could freely explore. The food court in the mall had a climbing area for toddlers. On a week night, when its not very busy, I let the toddlers stroll thru the mall. My daughter stops in front of store fronts and dances to the music.

 

I think its good to get yourself out, but I don't think one really need to invest money in activities, if you don't want to. Although my daughter would LOVE a toddler group music/dance thing.

 

Mom and baby swim lessons is another option, if your baby loves water.

 

We dont have family near by, which kind of sucks, because thats an easy thing to do / change of scenery.

 

p.s. You know, as an after thought, I have a 9 year old and we go to his activities (lacrosse, violin, swim) so she gets to see lots of people there. She wanders around. SOOO, maybe if you are in a small town, if you check out the highschool or lower level sports leagues ... going to those might offer your toddler some excitement/action.

 

p.s.s - With my first born, my son, I didn't really meet kid friends until he was in first grade. We were much more exposed to the parents and kids and that has been lovely. Before then, while he was at Montessori (3,4,5), it was much harder to meet families  as they were driving from suburbs and out of town and parents weren't suppose to get out of their cars and mingle.


newmamalizzy's Avatar newmamalizzy 11:11 AM 12-07-2011

Sounds very similar to our situation.  It seems like the coming of fall/winter brought a major drop in our social activities, and both Bea and I are really feeling the loss.  It drives me NUTS when I take her to a place where I hope there will be kids (like the library) and there aren't any.  A few towns near me have churches with multi-age drop-in playgroups.  I haven't checked these out yet, but I think it may be our best bet.  I'm a little apprehensive about the church aspect, but I need to just get over myself and go.  I'm also pretty bad about taking advantage of the connections we DO have.  Other moms at the playgroups start making private playdates, and I often feel left out because I feel shy and awkward about doing this.  Again - need to get over myself.  Other than that, we have a pay-to-play cafe nearby that we go to every so often, a foam climbing area in the mall, and I think for Christmas I'm going to get a membership to one of several kid-friendly museums within 20 minutes drive.  We're also flirting with the idea of toddler gymnastics, and/or just joining the Y and trying her out in the daycare for short periods.  We make the rounds to library story times, and sometimes just go to play with the puzzles.  We do the train table at Barnes and Noble when we're really desperate, and actually met one of Bea's "best friends" there.  One frustrating thing is that our next door neighbors watch their 3 grandkids all day, and there's a little girl almost Bea's age, but the grandfather tends to get really annoyed with the two older boys and will often yell at them and sometimes spank them.  It makes me feel really awkward about going there, even though Bea LOVES playing with them, and, in general, I really like our neighbors. 

 

Honestly, though, sometimes it feels like there's just no TIME to get out and do things.  All of the day-to-day stuff moves at a snail's pace, so we're not even ready to leave the house until 9:30 or 10 and need to be back by 11 to get ready for lunch, then nap, then post-nap snack, getting ready to go out again by 3 or so, then have to be back by 5.  Seems like we had a lot more time when Bea was smaller and didn't have to be so involved in everything, you know? Sometimes I feel like we don't have any time to just hang out and play anymore.


Adaline'sMama's Avatar Adaline'sMama 11:20 AM 12-07-2011
I live in a small town too, and we dont really go out much. One thing that I feel is important to (me anyway,) remember is that they dont have to be entertained all day every day. Right after DD started walking, I really struggled to entertain her all day long, and then I just realized one day when I was sick and laying on the couch that she didnt really HAVE to be entertained. If I didnt entertain her, she would find things to do herself. I realize every child isnt like this, but here a a few things I have forced myself to subscribe to that make for happier days for both of us:

1. My job is never done. I will pick the same toy up three times today, at least. Try not to need a sense of completion until the day is over and the kiddo is asleep.
2. It's okay to make a mess.
3. There's no reason to say no if you dont have to.
4. She is just going to fuss for about an hour a day, and there is nothing to be done about it.

After I remember those things, I just dont care near as much about what happens throughout the day. I dont get frustrated everytime there are blocks covering every surface of the floor and I cant walk or when she found a pen and is writing all over her arm. And sense Ive made these rules up for myself she has played alone so much more and loved it. We still play together for a lot of the day, but now I can get dinner on the table and the bed made. When we play together we usually:
play with blocks
play with crayons or markers
get a bath
eat
read books
play with our bed wire thing
count
go around and let her tell me about the things in the house
cuddle and nap/ wallow all over mommy
play dough
cook
look at babies and fishes on the internet
play outside
do all mommys chores

All of that being said, I relax a little by knowing that in a couple of years there will be two kiddos running around entertaining each other.
geekgolightly's Avatar geekgolightly 11:27 AM 12-07-2011

we just moved to a small town, too and found a playgroup through the EIP people. could you call your local EIP office and ask if they have any clue aboiut playgroups or other get togethers for toddlers?


lovepickles's Avatar lovepickles 11:46 AM 12-07-2011

Being a SAHM can be very lonely. The not so funny thing is that you are not alone in your loneliness. Many women and children fitting your age range are out there ... just not where you are in any given moment. I'd suggest starting a group. You don't have to be party planner to put it together. I've joined a few groups in my area on meetup.com. There is also holisticmoms.org and although I'm not too familiar with the section of this site but I've heard of a "finding your tribe" section. Sometimes you have to initiate group activities. Too many people wait for someone else to put something together.

 

Also something to keep in mind is that the kids can be perfectly happy/entertained while the parents are bored out of their mind. Boredom is an adult concept. My child (almost 2) is currently playing with her toes and it is fascinating for her. I can get into her mode if I listen to podcasts or an audiobook on my ipod. In fact, I'm much more fun to her if I'm not impatient and searching for something that is interesting to both of us instead of just her. Listening to my ipod and fiddling with toys and different things while sitting on the floor with her will keep her entertained for hours.


Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 12:26 PM 12-07-2011

thanks for the ideas so far- please keep em coming!!

 

I don't actually feel bored or really lonely right now (these days) , thank goodness! I go through that sometimes but not right now.

I know many sah parents do- we actually moved when I had ds to be closer to a town with people after living way out there- and I can be pretty happy at home for many hours- and I do have friends (not tons but some!) and my dh- and lots of things to keep myself happy. I just worry that ds gets bored! I know he isn't really lonely as he has me and dh- we usually give him our undivided attention as much as we can. But for example when we stay with my parents, and there are 4 people giving him lots of attention (granma grandpa me and dh) he is SO happy- and when we go out to see other kids he is so much happier-!

 

Maybe it is somewhat of my idea that he gets bored- more than he actually does? For example, today I went out- drove 15-20 minutes each way in the rain(not such a big deal except I don't love driving) and we went to the toddler gym.  He had fun and is now napping. It is pouring rain today- and I am just not sure what to do with him all afternoon when he wakes up from his nap. I feel like he could be happy playing around the house for an hour or so  but then he needs to get out- and there are only so many times we can go to the grocery store and the little library!

Because we are in a small town we don;'t have a mall or lots of attractions- if we did I would take him to those for sure.

 

I love the responses so far and eagerly await more! thanks you guys

 

oh as for starting a group- I have thought about it. first I thought about doing a weekly playgroup at my house but I like to have my house neat and clean and am not great w- lots of people here- so I don;'t think that would be good for me. I found a place I can rent in my town where we could do a play group- but there are no palythings there- well, a few toys- but not much- so can I rwally invite a bunch of toddlers to get together once a week in a room and just hang out? I guess we could all bring toys- I don't know!


katelove's Avatar katelove 03:39 PM 12-07-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post

 so can I rwally invite a bunch of toddlers to get together once a week in a room and just hang out? I guess we could all bring toys- I don't know

I think you can do that. The group I go to is free form. We go somewhere different each week - a park, someone's place, the local pool etc - and most people bring a few toys, balls, books, musical instruments. No more than you can easily carry. The kids are happy to see new stuff so they don't care what it is. I always take toys that are easy to clean and that I wouldn't be upset to have lost or broken.


crunchy_mommy's Avatar crunchy_mommy 05:39 PM 12-07-2011
You could do a rotating weekly playgroup, if you get 4+ moms to join then you'd never have to host more than once a month (and people with smaller homes could "host" by choosing a third-party location, park/museum/hall/whatever. If you decide to meet at an empty room, just ask everyone to bring a couple of toys to share -- I've done this often with my friends & it works out great (arts & craft supplies are a hit too). Check meetup.com to see if there are any groups in your area already...

Different age groups are fun but I find it works best when the kids are 4 & under... the 5+ kids tend to want to be doing different things than the toddler/preschool age kids. DS does like the company of similar-aged kids but I think he is just as happy with adults too -- really, anyone who pays attention to him & plays with him fulfills his social needs.

We do get out nearly every day (often spending many hours out!) but we also live in a small town so we usually drive 15-45mins away to get to places. I drive a half hour each way to a free yoga class (the money I spend on gas is mitigated by the class being free!) and afterwards we usually hang out at a park near there (always busier than the ones near home!) or go somewhere else in the city. We go to story hours at a couple of different libraries nearby as well as the bookstore, they all have different schedules so for a while we were going to story times almost daily! Then we stay at the library to read & play for a while. The librarians all know him by name. Some businesses are pretty kid-friendly (thrift stores -- they can play with the toys there; the bookstore 15mins away has a train table set up; Petco has mini shopping carts & he'll push those & check out the animals)... We often incorporate necessary errands into these outings so it doesn't feel like we're wasting time/gas, and we try to take the time to chat with customers/cashiers/etc. There is a children's museum and a zoo about 25mins away so sometimes we go there. We visit local farms, go on hikes, etc. We do lots of playdates. I can't even list everywhere we go because we are always doing something new! It helps that I am part of a very active natural-parenting group, and within that group I have made some amazing friends, so even when the mom's group goes through a slow spell, we can still hang out with our core group of friends. Most of them live 1/2 an hour away from us but I don't mind driving since I love our friends so much!

I guess really you either have to be willing to drive a bit, or somehow meet people in your neighborhood. Do people take walks with their kids or play in the yard? Maybe you could stop and introduce yourself & see if they want to get together to play. Check your community rec center & see if they have any kid classes or events (I would have sworn my town didn't do that but it turns out they do, & it's super cheap!!) When you do see others at the library or playground, exchange phone numbers... you really have to put yourself out there, but I think most moms are pretty receptive because they are all in the same boat!!


Xavismom's Avatar Xavismom 06:17 PM 12-18-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by SunRise View Post

My 21 month old does not seem interested in others yet, well she does notice them and is even curious about them but she doesn't play or really interact. So far she still seems to entertain herself. Also, I'm not the kind of person who needs so much social interaction so our outings are weekly or bi-weekly rather then daily.



This sounds a lot like us. DS is happy to play on his own, and does not interact much with other children.

 

My DH works nights, so on days he works, our days are like this:

 

Wake up, DS plays with fingerpaint or playdough while I make breakfast.

Eat, then DS 'helps' me clean

Play time in our family room with books, his train set, cars, etc.

Naptime. Dad gets home.

Wake up and play with Dad for about an hour, so Dad can go to bed.

Run errands (this is mostly to get him out of the house so my DH can sleep!)

Make dinner while he plays with toys.

More play after dinner. We bought him an indoor slide/climbing set because it is COLD right now. In the warmer months, this is when we would go run out the last of his energy out at the park.

Bath, books, go to bed.

 

On days my DH does not work (3 or 4 days a week) we really have NO routine at all. Or a plan. Its all kind of chaos depending on what DH decides to do. Sometimes DS does not even nap on these days. Lots of play, going places, etc.


Snapdragon's Avatar Snapdragon 08:56 PM 12-18-2011

Xavismom- how do you keep the mess down when you give him fingerpaints? I can picture ds running around the house smearing paint over everything if I let him play with finger paints! what is your mothod for that?

Also at what age did your ds show interest in fingerpaints and play doh?

I just got a book  with some ideas of at home things to do to play with your toddler so maybe I will get some good ideas about how to step it up more when we are at home- with new activities and things for him to learn- so we will have more fun when we stay home! I'll let you guys kniw when I read it if there are any good ideas.


lovepickles's Avatar lovepickles 11:56 PM 12-18-2011

FYI: We do fingerprints in the bathtub while I'm washing my hair. Playdoh is done at the table when she is strapped into her chair.


foxsmama's Avatar foxsmama 08:36 PM 12-19-2011

I take DS to the library almost every weekday. We also go to the playground (weather permitting), out for walks, and we do a playdate at least once a week. DS is the type of child who does NOT like staying at home, so i try to get him out to do something every day, even if it is only for a half hour. 


Xavismom's Avatar Xavismom 11:06 AM 12-20-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post

Xavismom- how do you keep the mess down when you give him fingerpaints? I can picture ds running around the house smearing paint over everything if I let him play with finger paints! what is your mothod for that?

Also at what age did your ds show interest in fingerpaints and play doh?

I just got a book  with some ideas of at home things to do to play with your toddler so maybe I will get some good ideas about how to step it up more when we are at home- with new activities and things for him to learn- so we will have more fun when we stay home! I'll let you guys kniw when I read it if there are any good ideas.


I dont have a method, I think I'm just very lucky! DS just automatically keeps his fingerpaints and playdough at the table. He actually gets pretty upset when some of the dough falls off onto the floor, and he has to climb down to pick it up. He has always been really particular about where stuff 'goes',  or what 'belongs' with what though, so I think its just a facet of his natural personality. He plays by himself really well too. We just started this stuff recently, he just turned two. I think he would have liked them earlier though.

 


SunRise's Avatar SunRise 12:03 PM 12-20-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by Xavismom View Post


I dont have a method, I think I'm just very lucky! DS just automatically keeps his fingerpaints and playdough at the table. He actually gets pretty upset when some of the dough falls off onto the floor, and he has to climb down to pick it up. He has always been really particular about where stuff 'goes',  or what 'belongs' with what though, so I think its just a facet of his natural personality. He plays by himself really well too. We just started this stuff recently, he just turned two. I think he would have liked them earlier though.

 



My son was like this. Very careful, organized and focused at the task at hand. He fully understood and took seriously things like pens are for writing on paper, sofas are for sitting, etc. My daughter, on the other hand, would be moving around the house painting walls, cats, dogs, licking her hands, the floor... anything. Much more experimental.


lifeguard's Avatar lifeguard 02:45 PM 12-20-2011

Very good ideas here.

 

I know that my choice to live outside of a small town means more driving. We all our used to it now.

 

fwiw - it took awhile (6months or so) of us regularly going to the drop in centre for me to make some friends. I focused more on connecting with women I liked regardless of the age of our children & for the most part I have found if they are within a year it works out.


PixieLittle's Avatar PixieLittle 03:09 PM 12-20-2011
One of the best things I've found to add fun to the week is our local MOMS Club chapter. I joined at first for DS's benefit, but it is great for me to be able to talk with other SAHMs too. Maybe there is one near you?
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